If you have a consumer brand, you can likely sell merchandise. Let me back up. If you are in the funeral industry it may be a steeper climb to get the general public to wear your stuff, but for most other brands, you have a pretty good shot at connecting with an audience. And, if your product or service is in the “fun” category, it is a no-brainer.
So, based on our experience, here are the top things you need to do.
#1 – Brand loyalty
Think in terms of your biggest fans. Don’t try to create gear that everyone will love. There is no such thing. Even if you were selling sunshine, you would still find folks who didn’t want it. What do your loyal customers want? Base this off how they live, what they eat, where they live, their psychographics, and behaviors. Go for the smallest niche possible that hits the target for your most loyal fans. To borrow a paraphrase from Seth Godin – people like us do or buy things like this.
#2 – Start small
Choose just a handful of products that are sure bets. When starting, this is not the time to get overly excited about all the possible things you could sell. You need to prove you have an audience, and with a small batch of carefully curated products, you can prove your case. First-timers tend to do a product mix like this – One T-shirt, One Cap, One small item like a bottle opener or koozie, One Hoodie, and one Drinkware item. With that mix, you have three non-sized items and two that require stocking size ranges. This keeps it simple and easy.
#3 – A price range for every budget
An easy rule of thumb is something under $5, around $10, around $20, and then build upwards in $10 increments. This gives the casual collector something to buy as well as your die-hard fan who can’t wait to get your new hoodie or tech gadget. To really supercharge your product set, offer in combos or kits. Repackage two things that together give a higher perceived value. An old standby is the cap/shirt combo. Let’s say they both retail for $20 but you have them combo packed at $35. That second item is an easy add-on sale and created goodwill while making you a profit. This is also a great way to clear out low-performing stock. Pair with a winner and move more merch.
#4 – Effective displays
A great display wins the day so don’t forget to make it work for you. Stack neatly, arrange merchandise by color and size, include shelf-talkers or signage that tells buyers what it is and what it costs. People don’t like to ask for a price to make it easy for them to buy. Sloppy shelves underperform and tell the patron that this is an undervalued area. Rotate merchandise regularly to keep it looking fresh, and keep shelves fairly full – this is a Goldilocks measurement: not too full and not too sparse. Both extremes are put-offs to guests.
#5 – Touchpoints
Use all your touchpoints to create more sales opportunities. This includes having your staff wear the gear to help promote it and offering them incentives to move merch. Then, add your merch to your rewards or loyalty program so that your best fans can access it with their points accrual. Some people will use merch awards as gifts for friends and family to spread the brand love far and wide. Tie in merch with your seasonal special and LTOs – maybe a koozie for tailgate season, a bottle opener for spring training, a crazy tie for Father’s Day, and a fun socks for holiday gift-giving.
#6 – More than just a logo
Your logo is lovely, but not what attracts most people to your business, so use it minimally as a supporting cast member. Instead focus on phrases, sayings, quotes, designs, and artwork that resonate with your fans in meaningful ways – to them. They buy branded gear in spite of the logo on it, not usually because of it. OK, if you are Louis Vuitton or Nike, you will get logo buyers, but most other brands are not so fortunate to play it easy. Gear has the ability to create emotional connections with your fans. Speak to their interests, humor style, lifestyle, and behaviors.
Two more things to keep in mind – The best retail merchandise programs use both Design and Strategy at the outset. This is not a random shot in the dark to attract buyers and loyal fans. All of this works best when created with clear objectives and goals in mind. Do you want to connect with your loyal patrons in more meaningful and tangible ways; is it to make money; or, do you want to strictly increase brand awareness by using your unpaid brand ambassadors? It may be a mix, but whatever it is, know why you are undertaking a merch program.
Lastly, if you want to start a new merchandise program or optimize the one you have, then call us. We’ve been doing this for years and make it easy for you to succeed in sales.